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access_time November 20, 2021 at 6:08 AM in Reviews by Brian Zuhl

Review | Rustler

Medieval times is a very prominent setting in the gaming industry. Many stories can be told in a setting full of Knights and Kings. Rustler decides to take a different approach, taking more of an inspiration from Grand Theft Auto than anything else. When starting Rustler you are greeted with a hilarious live action cutscene that sets the tone for the whole game. From this point you realize that the game doesn’t take itself too seriously but is still fun ride anyway. From the numerous pop culture references to the surprisingly well done combat, Rustler provides a great Medieval thug experience.

You play as a nearly unnamed ruffian that simply goes by Guy. Down on his luck, Guy and his partner join a tournament of knights with prize being the princess and half the kingdom. As you may have guessed, things don’t go as planned and chaos ensues. Rustler plays pretty loose with its medieval setting. You’ll find the graffiti on the castle walls and knights with oddly familiar red and blue flashing lights. I found this to be one of the highlights of the game. You never know what modern oddity you’ll run into next. One of my favorite moments was hiring a bard to follow me around only to realize he’s a beatboxer.

Rustler plays very similarly to classic Grand Theft Auto games, using a top-down perspective instead of third person. While this works for past games, the perspective feels a little rough. I often found it hard to process my surroundings when behind buildings and trees. The perspective shifts up or down depending on what you are next to, though this only serves to disorient more. It’s even more disorienting if you end up picking a fight with someone while near one of these perspective shifts. Riding horses becomes difficult due to the camera as well. You can’t see ahead of you, causing most speedy horse rides to end up as crashes.

Combat works much better than I would have expected for a game like this. Melee combat involves managing your extremely small stamina bar with proper timing of blocks and parry’s. Ranged weapons, namely the crossbow, are easy to use and fun to perfect. Shielded knights are mostly immune to the crossbow but time it right and you can hit them with a bolt as soon as they attack. It’s difficult to pull off but satisfying once you get the timing down. Playing on the PlayStation 5 also makes use of the adaptive triggers. The less stamina you have the harder it is to press the triggers. The crossbows also give a satisfying click on the triggers when reloading.

While the combat is fun, the quests that lead to them can be a bit lacking. Most quests are simple, go here, kill everyone, grab this. The main storyline does have some standout quests that I won’t spoil. Pop culture references and easter eggs fill many of the main quests. Though having great main quests only makes the poor side quests feel even worse by comparison. Even though the map is rather large, I found that there isn’t much to do. You can beat up random villagers and get chased by knights, but thats about all there is to do outside of quests. While this is fun the first few times, it gets old fast.

The cell shaded art style does a great job of highlighting the comedic tone of the game. There is enough detail in the character portraits to tell them apart from one another. The voices of the character however, can be quite annoying. Each character sounds like they’re mumbling every word while they talk. It’s not too bad at first but over time the constant grumbling is very annoying. The environments aren’t too detailed, but due to the nature of the game, it’s not really an issue. Music is mostly done by the various bards throughout the game, with the music fading in and out as you get closer to the bards. You can hire a bard to follow you around and play music, but without that there isn’t much music to accompany you.

Rustler is an interesting callback to the classic Grand Theft Auto style. The weird modern twist on the medieval style carries it all the way to the end of the game. The many references and jokes throughout keep the tone light and the comedy high. While it’s not the most innovative combat, it’ll keep you going into the next main quest. For fans of open world games, Rustler warrants at least one play-through, but don’t expect much past that.

Final Score: 7 out of 10

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